ST. GEORGE — After taking a year off because of the COVID-19 pandemic, hundreds of Southern Utah residents and visitors gathered in the bright sunshine Monday morning at SunRiver Veterans Honor Park to celebrate Memorial Day and to remember fallen heroes.
“We’ve been doing this for 10 years now, and it’s been great,” Tom Cover, master of ceremonies for the event, told St. George News. “It’s been getting bigger and bigger each year, and I think this is the biggest we’ve had yet. … It’s been a great tribute to what America is all about: duty, honor and country.”
The Patriot Guard Riders of Southern Utah provided a motorcycle escort to open the ceremony.
John Mayer played the bagpipes, and members of American Legion Post 142, Marine Corps League Detachment 1270 and the Knights of Columbus 4th Degree Honor Guard all participated in the flag ceremony.
“We need to be constantly reminded of our gift of freedom and of those who gave all to make sure future generations continue to show life in a free, democratic society,” retired U.S. Air Force Lt. Col. Father Glenn Dare said in his invocation.
“Remembering those that have passed is only half the task that is before us today. We must also carry their love, honor and duty forward to future generations,” Dare add. “Our children must know who they were, what they did and why they did it. To do anything less will be a disservice to their sacrifice and their memories.”
Melissa and Brodie Perry provided music, including the national anthem and a rendition of Italian tenor Andrea Bocelli’s “Con Te Partiro” (“Time To Say Goodbye”).
Guest speaker retired U.S. Air Force Lt. Col. Dennis Berg talked about his service flying the SR-71 Black Bird, an advanced version of the U2 reconnaissance aircraft.
“Since the founding of our nation, over 2.8 million lives have been lost in the defense of our freedom,” Berg said. “We as citizens have an immense debt of gratitude we owe our fallen warriors. With debt comes responsibility. … To that end, it has been said, to be born into freedom is a privilege. To die in freedom is a responsibility.”
The honor guard displayed a wreath on the stage, taps was performed, the flags were lowered and a former Marine pilot flew over the park at the conclusion of the ceremony.
After a year off, the Color Country Chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution were back with their booth offering patriotic themed baked goods.
“We had at least 15 ladies that fired up their ovens this week,” Valerie King, regent of the chapter, told St. George News. “We usually offer this at the ceremonies, and people are very generous. They look at all of our baked goods, they take some home with them and they donate, and then we use the money for our veterans service programs.”
Some of the programs the Color Country Chapter contributes to include Utah Honor Flight, Wreaths Across America and the Gold Star Family Memorial.
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